Professional Jeweler Archive: What Do Women Really Want?

January 2005

Cover Focus / Women


What Do Women Really Want?

You may have been trained to sell to men. But women have unique needs


To find out how to sell more successfully to the increasing number of women who buy jewelry for themselves or as gifts to others, Professional Jeweler spoke with some recipients of the Women’s Jewelry Association’s annual award for Excellence in Retail. Here’s what they tell us.

For Her, For Someone Else?

Colleen Rafferty of Christensen & Rafferty Fine Jewelry, San Mateo, CA, says most women who shop in her store buy for themselves. But gift-buying is a growing habit, so find out if a woman is looking for herself, someone else or perhaps both.

Marie Helene Morrow of Reinhold Jewelers, San Juan, Puerto Rico, says women approach jewelry differently when buying for themselves – they’re generally bolder and more adventurous in their choices. When buying gifts, they tend to be more conservative. Morrow should know: 65%-70% of her customers are women, and 23 out of 25 members of her selling staff are female.

Get to Know Her

Most women look for a sales associate who cares about them and their needs. Ask why she’s looking: to reward herself, to feel good, because she simply loves beautiful jewels? Does she have an occasion on the horizon? What does she do for a living? What kinds of jewelry does she wear now? Does she travel, have hobbies, socialize? What are her favorite colors and clothing styles? The goal is to keep asking questions, but Rafferty stresses you must be genuine and conversational. If you give a woman the feeling you’re interrogating her, you will turn her off.

Mary Todd McGinnis, a vice president with Ben Bridge Jeweler, Seattle, WA, offers to clean a piece of jewelry her customer is wearing to break the ice. While cleaning, she asks the customer to tell her about the piece. She often learns important information from answers such as, “It was an impulse buy. I just wanted it.” Or “It was my grandmother’s.”

Make Shopping Fun

For many women, shopping is a sport or game, says McGinnis. They get a rush of adrenaline and feel the thrill of the hunt when they’re shopping. The idea is to make the process fun. Sissy Jones of Sissy’s Log Cabin in Pine Bluff, AR, offers an example. When selling engagement rings, she and her staff create a mini-wedding scene with a cake and champagne. They videotape the event just like a wedding. She also says women love the excitement of trunk shows and meeting designers. Women want to end up with more than a piece of jewelry. They want to have a good time buying it and have a lasting memory. “They want a warm fuzzy feeling, and if they don’t get it, they won’t buy from you,” says Morrow.

Don’t Get in the Way

Grease the wheel or, as McGinnis says, “Don’t blow the vibe.” Don’t tell a woman what she should buy or direct her too much. Most women have definite ideas about what they like and dislike. “Instead of selling to women, my goal is to help them buy,” she says.

Don’t Rush

Because so many women like shopping, you have to give them the time and freedom to explore, says Georgie Gleim of Gleim The Jeweler in Palo Alto, CA. Morrow adds that men tend to want efficiency, while women like to browse. It’s important to make your customer feel welcome to take her time and to see as many pieces as she wants. Never give her the feeling you’re tired of the presentation or becoming impatient.

Don’t Make Assumptions

One of the most important points all our experts raised is making false assumptions. Here are some to avoid:

Don’t assume a woman needs her husband’s approval. Gleim says the notion of spousal approval is often outdated. Many women today are financially successful. Even if she says it will be a gift, encourage her to buy now to save her spouse the time later, advises McGinnis.

Don’t assume a woman will spend less than a man. Show your finest jewels to a woman. She may not be planning to spend that much, but she’ll regard it as a compliment that you assume she can.

Don’t just show brand names. Rafferty says many women are more interested in design or in “wearable art” than just a brand name. Morrow finds women also are more open to new looks than men.

Don’t assume an older woman has conservative tastes. As women get older, many develop confidence they didn’t have when they were younger and choose more daring designs and bigger, more exciting pieces, says Rafferty.

Don’t assume she can afford only one item. Jones says she never totals the sale on her sales pad until the very end. Once a woman has chosen one item for herself, she may be open to a matching piece or a gift for someone else.

Women’s Intuition?

Studies spanning 37 countries confirm women can read body language and facial expressions better than men. If not trained properly, salespeople may not realize how well women prospects and customers can gauge their sincerity and personal interest.

Source: Gender Trends™ by the Trend Sight Group

Copyright © 2005 by Bond Communications